5 Differences Between Coaching And Mentoring

Coach vs. Mentor

It is understandable that you think mentoring and coaching are similar or even the same. But they are not. Coaching and mentoring use the same skillsets and approaches, but coaching is a short-term task and mentoring is a longer-term relationship. Both deserve attention in the workplace.

As your business grows, consider leadership branding. Leadership Branding? Yes. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do your employees prefer to work with one manager rather than another?
  2. Do you notice a higher turnover rate in some teams or groups than in others?
  3. Do you think some executives in your organization are more motivated than others?
  4. Are these the same executives who generate higher revenues and stronger financial results?
  5. What could your organization look like if all of your leaders, partners or managers could be strong, motivational leaders?


When we hear the word “branding,” we think of a group of products that have a similar distinction. Leadership Branding offers all of your executives a similar award that reflects your corporate culture.

Once your corporate culture is documented, I work with the leadership team to develop the company’s leadership. The leadership brand would set a consistent behavior that exemplifies the values of the company. Leaders would establish a common ground to deal with their emotions and the emotions of others, and a consensus about the qualities that they should embody to model the desired leadership image. Leadership Branding provides a clear understanding of what is expected of corporate leaders. It conveys a sense of consistency and stability, allowing leaders at all levels to respond congruently to issues and corporate strategies, resulting in improved employee retention and customer relationships.

Part of the strength of your corporate culture is the leadership style that business leaders demonstrate. Leadership branding shows a secure connection to and the life of corporate values. It also models necessary behaviors for the staff and encourages them to follow the example. This leadership style proves to employees and customers that your leaders are always “in the conversation.”

Coaching your leadership team, “branding,” provides the skills of your company’s executives and employees are your most valuable assets. Mentoring offers the opportunity to promote these skills in your business to achieve goals such as:

Workforce development. Especially when succession planning is an issue, mentoring can prepare the next generation of leaders while ensuring knowledge transfer.

Attract and retain employees. The best employees are attracted to employers who offer them opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge.

Diversity. Hiring a diverse workforce is just the beginning. Mentoring reduces barriers to equal opportunities.

You see, coaching enables your executives to become the mentors needed to sustain your business structure. Just to be clear, let’s discuss the differences between the two.

Here are five distinguishing features that I think are important between coaching and mentoring.


  1. Coaching is task-oriented. The focus here is on concrete issues such as effectively managing, speaking more clearly and learning to think strategically. This requires a content expert (coach) who can teach the coachee how to develop those skills.

Mentoring is relationship-oriented. It aims to create a safe environment in which the mentor shares all issues that affect his professional and personal success. Although specific learning goals or competencies can be used as a basis for shaping the relationship, their focus goes beyond such areas to issues such as work-life balance, self-confidence, self-awareness, and the influence of the person on the profession.


  1. Coaching is short term. A coach can be successful with a coachee for a short time, maybe even just for a few sessions. The coaching lasts as long as necessary, depending on the purpose of the coaching relationship.

Mentoring is always long term. Mentoring requires being successful, time in which both partners learn from each other and create a climate of trust that can create the environment in which the mentor can feel secure when sharing the real issues that affect his or her success. Successful mentoring relationships should last from nine months to a year.


  1. Coaching is performance-oriented. The purpose of coaching is to improve the performance of individuals at work. This includes either improving current skills or acquiring new skills. Once the coachee has successfully acquired the skills, the trainer is no longer needed.

Mentoring is development-oriented. The goal is to develop the individual not only for the current job but also for the future. This distinction distinguishes the role of the immediate supervisor and the mentor. It also reduces the possibility of creating conflicts between the employee’s manager and the mentor.


  1. Coaching requires no design. Coaching can be done almost immediately on any topic. If you need to coach a large group of people, then indeed design is involved. You will need to determine the areas of competence, the required expertise and the evaluation tools used, but this does not necessarily need long lead time to implement the coaching program,

Mentoring requires a design phase to determine the strategic purpose of the mentoring, the focus of the relationship, the specific mentoring models, and the particular components that guide the relationship, especially the matching process.

  1. The immediate supervisor of the coachee is a critical partner in coaching. He or she often gives the coach feedback on areas where his staff needs coaching. This coach uses this information as a guide to the coaching process

Mentoring involves the direct manager indirectly. Although she makes suggestions for the best use of the mentoring experience or gives the Matching Committee a recommendation for a good match, the manager has no connection to the mentor, and they will not communicate at all during the mentoring relationship. This contributes to maintaining the integrity of the mentoring relationship.


When should coaching be considered?


  • When a company wants to develop its employees in specific competencies with the help of performance management tools and the involvement of the immediate manager
  • If a company has some talented people who do not meet expectations
  • When a company introduces a new system or program
  • When a company needs a small group of individuals (5-8) who need more skill in specific areas
  • When a leader or leader needs help as an additional responsibility to acquire a new skill


When should mentoring be considered?


  • When a company wants to develop its executives or talent pool as part of succession planning
  • When a company wants to expand and improve its diverse workforce to remove barriers that hinder its success
  • When a company wants to develop its employees in ways that go beyond acquiring specific skills/competencies
  • If a company wants to retain its internal know-how and experience in its current employees for years to come
  • When a company wants to create a culture that balances the work life


It is helpful to understand the difference between mentoring and coaching in the workplace because although many processes are similar, they are provided by people with different qualifications and different relationships with their clients. 

In short, the difference can be summarized as follows:

“A coach has some good questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers to your questions.”


Remember, the strength of your corporate culture is the leadership style that business leaders demonstrate.   An article found in the Harvard Business Review reminds us,” a focus on leaders emphasizes the personal qualities of the individual; leadership emphasizes the methods that secure the ongoing good of the firm.”  Leadership branding shows a secure connection to and the life of corporate values.  Understanding and developing a coaching and mentoring process in-house will keep your most valuable asset in house.